September 10, 2015

The Right Way

Very early on in my professional career while serving as a live-in employee at a group home, I remember waking up around 6:00am and the overnight employee telling me, “I already passed all the morning medications so you don’t have to worry about it!”  It was her first day, and she seemed very eager.  As I started helping people get dressed and ready for their day, I noticed she was not calling people by their actual names.  She called Rudy “Buddy” and Marvin “Steve.”  I corrected her each time, but quickly realized that all ten residents had received someone else’s medications.  With some individuals receiving eight to ten different medications, there could be some significant medical issues.  After figuring out who had gotten which medications and spending about an hour on the phone with an emergency room doctor, we were able to determine that everyone was okay but needed follow-up […]
August 24, 2015

The Right People

We have been working very hard to be more intentional in creating a work culture that fosters employee engagement and high quality service.  This includes having the right people on board.  The most difficult question then becomes, “How do you know they are the right people?”  Based on my experiences, I have found four core elements that must be present for an employee to be successful in our organization. 1. Philosophy: consists of the beliefs and values related to the work we do.  While employees come to us with our own set of beliefs and values and are entitled to such, we have a responsibility to ensure they align with the values of Open Options UCP as it relates to the work we perform.  Our core values, for example, are necessary elements for an employee to be successful; he or she must be committed to the well-being and happiness of […]
August 11, 2015

Change Is Good

We have undergone a number of significant changes in the past year. I’d like to highlight some of the key improvements that we believe will help us move forward as we aspire to become a premier provider of supports and services for people with disabilities. Some of the changes include: ▪ Rebranding – In January 2015, we rebranded as Open Options UCP from our previous name United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Kansas City. ▪ Quality Enhancement – We created a Quality Enhancement department that focuses on ensuring we are providing person-centered, high quality services and are enabling people to achieve outcomes that are most important to them.  This department consists of a Director of Quality Enhancement and two Quality Enhancement Coordinators. ▪ Health Services – Understanding how important the physical health and well-being of the people we support is, we created a Health Services department that oversees medical management.  This department consists of two Health Services Coordinators. ▪ Information Technology – We […]
July 29, 2015

Forest Through the Trees

In my experience in the nonprofit sector, there is little time spent on evaluating the overall cause and effect relationships and the overarching “logic” of why we do what we do.  It is easy to get pulled into the day-to-day operations of an organization and begin losing the ability to see the forest through the trees.  Increasing government regulations, procedures, and policies have created a culture of compliance, defining success as the absence of the “bad.”  “If I don’t get any phone calls from [insert licensing body here] today, I’ve accomplished something,” I have found myself thinking on my worst days.  A fear-based mentality like this results in leaders responding to threats and problems when they surface, rather than thinking proactively and working to create systems that create positive outcomes. My personal challenge is to think outside of the artificial walls that I have erected around me that have led […]